But you know, I am a kid of divorce. It seriously shocked me. In my head, when I was told at 16, I came up with at least 10 other couples or families that should have divorced before my own parents (I started coping well early, obviously).
They never fought in front of us. Not ever. I never heard harsh words behind closed doors either. And yet…when I was old enough to babysit, I witnessed genuine affection and attraction between the parents of those kids and it was as if a door to an unknown world was flung open to me (how ridiculous was I? See how rigid I was? Call me Darcy and be done with it). I did not know that parents could be more than Mom and Dad.
I was cynical for a long time (I suppose at 27, I still am… but I am a work in progress… even Darcy bends enough to get the girl and my repeated references to Pride and Prejudice obviously shows I have a romantic streak). After the divorce, my parents’ relationship changed. For the first time, I saw genuine affection for one another as friends and it gave me so much joy and yet so much sorrow. Why could they love one another this way and not the other?
Then I read this poem (don’t skip it, even if you always skip poems ha!):
So I see them, my mom sitting under the gaudy Christmas lights of the neighborhood bar, home from college for the holiday, nursing her single drink, long dark hair thick down her back, graceful dancer hands cupping her glass. I see him spot her, young and trim, all dark hair and confidence. They grew up in the same neighborhood and knew of one another in their large high school but never met…
And I want to say: wait. stop.
Don’t ask her out. Don’t say yes. You are better as friends. You do not know what you are about to do to one another, if only by accident.
But much like the speaker in the Sharon Olds poem, after a serious nervous breakdown (I put my identity in all the wrong things and then that identity was blown away like a dandelion puff) and recovery, I realized something so incredibly important:
I want to live.
So I watch them in that homey little bar. I let my father make my mother laugh. I allow his humor and arrogance and kindness attract her. I let her beauty and shyness push him not only to ask her on a date but one step further when she tells him she cannot attend due to a friend’s party. I hear the now infamous line, see his grin as he says: if you don’t go out with me Friday, maybe we shouldn’t go out at all. And though as a woman I want to flick her in the forehead, I see her agree. And I am at peace.
Because I want to live.
I don’t pretend to know mysteries like why God put my parents together when they were more well suited for others. It’s beyond me and I know that now so much better than I did before. But I do know He wanted my brother and me to live. And so I find more peace.
So as a writer and as a daughter, I think of them meeting and I no longer want to stop time. Instead, as writer and as a daughter, I say: do what you are going to do, and I will tell about it (Olds).